President Hage Geingob says he has been requested to mediate in the ongoing political unrest in the central African country, Gabon after that country’s opposition leader, Jean Ping, petitioned the courts to recount last month’s presidential election results.
According to international media reports, the standoff has resulted in deadly violence, with opposition supporters protesting in numbers, while the defeated presidential candidate, Ping, last week lodged a complaint with Gabon’s Constitutional Court.
Jean Ping has complained of fraud, pointing out that in one province incumbent Ali Bongo won 95% of the vote. Cable News Network reports that Ping, a former diplomat and African Union official, lost the presidential bid to incumbent Ali Bongo by less than 6 000 votes, according to figures from that country’s electoral commission.
Bongo took office in 2009 after an election marred by violence, in which he succeeded his father, Omar Bongo, who had come to power in 1967 and was Africa’s longest serving leader.
The 2016 election results, released August 31, show that Bongo won 49.8 percent of the vote, while Ping had 48.23 percent. Ping and his supporters say the numbers are fraudulent and demand a recount. It is further reported that international observers highlighted irregularities with the counting process and asked the electoral commission to publish the results for each individual polling station.
Gabonese authorities claim three people have died and 105 have been injured following violent clashes and more than 800 arrests, but the number of people killed and displaced by the violence between protesters and police is disputed.
Geingob, who is currently in the United States of America to attend the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly, hinted before his departure that he has been called on to mediate between the rival parties in that country.
He said he was due to stop over in Gabon, having been requested to intervene in the crisis there by mediating between the parties and said he has been following the situation closely since it spiralled out of control following the disputed election outcome.
“We’re being selected [for international mediation]. Instead of Namibians being proud that their leaders are respected and invited to mediate in situations where there are problems, they are not,” he noted.